Francois Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743-1803) was the leader of a slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). L’Ouverture was born a slave but earned his freedom in 1776; he was also educated, literate and informed about the revolutionary events unfolding in France. In late 1791 L’Ouverture organised and led a slave rebellion against the French colonists. After seven years of fighting, Saint-Domingue became Haiti, the first independent black republic in history. L’Ouverture declared himself governor for life in 1801 but his rule lasted barely a year, ending when he was seized by Napoleon’s men. He was returned to France and died in custody.